School principal sets up social distancing divider for students in a classroom in California. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)


A school-reopening option: Adopt a staggered and phased approach

Kennedy School Professor Jennifer Lerner has put her deep expertise as a decision scientist to work rethinking how public schools can open safely in a pandemic. Lerner and education policy expert Brian Gill write in the Washington Post that decisions about school re-openings should account for the uncertainty of our knowledge and the unforgiving mathematics of pandemics: “Bringing all the students back, in all the schools, on the same day, risks throwing fuel on the fire.” Lerner and Gill suggest instead that schools should take steps to reduce the chances of catastrophic contagion. That means letting go of a Monday-through-Friday schedule and having students attend in separate small groups for two days a week, for example, to ease crowding in buses and classrooms. They write: “A phased and staggered approach acknowledges the limits of present scientific knowledge, protects against worst-case scenarios, and facilitates the development of better solutions.”



HKS faculty Hannah Riley Bowles, Kimberlyn Leary, Zoe Marks, and Janina Matuszeski discuss gender inequity during the pandemic. Dean’s Discussion series.


The Supreme Court v. U.S. public opinion: The verdict is in

The U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings this term on some of the most vexing and polarizing issues on the national agenda: church vs. state, abortion, immigration, LGBTQ rights, presidential powers. This year, citizens and court watchers could compare each ruling with the American public’s attitudes toward the issue under scrutiny. Harvard Kennedy School Professor Maya Sen and professors Neil Malhotra of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Stephen Jessee of the University of Texas at Austin have published the findings of their new research collaboration called SCOTUSPoll. They surveyed opinions of 2,000 Americans on each of the issues the court was taking up. In a Q&A about her research, Sen shares a surprising core finding: “Our study showed that the court’s position in every major case this term  was exactly in line with public opinion.”



Race, Inequality, and Rebellion in Modern America, a webcast with Professor Leah Wright Rigueur, from HKS Executive Education.


Helping mayors confront challenges of COVID-19 and social, economic, and racial inequity

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, based at the Kennedy School, kicked off its fourth mayors class virtually on July 9. Harvard faculty are teaching a cohort of 40 mayors; almost half are women; one third are African American or Hispanic; and 40 percent are in their first year of office. The first session featured an interactive discussion on leading diverse teams in a multi-layered crisis, led by Kimberlyn Leary, a lecturer at the Kennedy School. The faculty co-chairs, HKS Senior Lecturer Jorrit de Jong and Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, pivoted the mayors’ program to focus on recovery from COVID-19, with an emphasis on social, economic and racial equity. The initiative also offers two other programs to support city leaders worldwide as they confront challenges worsened by the pandemic. Materials are available publicly on the initiative’s website.



50-State COVID-19 survey finds declining approval for government executives. Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. Professor Matthew Baum, John Della Volpe.


  • Police reform failed for hundreds of years [Khalil Gibran Muhammad] CNN

  • Trump might not want to relinquish power [Graham Allison] The Atlantic

  • ICE restrictions on international students a self-inflicted wound [Joseph Nye] Foreign Policy

  • Essential workers should be treated with more respect [Daniel Schneider] San Francisco Chronicle

  • A nationwide response from an unlikely place: City halls [Jorrit De Jong] The Hill

  • Boston police are not Minneapolis police [Christopher Winship] Boston Globe

  • As the debate heats up around reopening schools, 5 critical pieces of advice for parents [Juliette Kayyem] NBC News

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